I had a tense and angry day at work today. I had a lot of meetings lined up this day, I still have 10 hours of grading to get finished before Tuesday, and probably ~3-5 days worth of miscellaneous required projects that should get done in the next 2 weeks in addition to my regular teaching/work schedule. I know. This is why I have a reduced teaching load. On the other hand, it’s still too much.
Part of me really wants to rant at you about that. Part of me doesn’t want to have that out on my blog.
Change of subject. Back to teaching.
The first challenging Matlab assignment was due yesterday in the modeling class. Many students rose to the challenge; I know a few learned a lot in the past week. Then there’s the vocal minority who plainly started late, discovered it was challenging, and then had problems completing their work. I was very disappointed in a few repeat offenders. I feel bad for them, but the usual late penalties will apply.
I fear for them (and their partners) for the first project. We start now, and they have two weeks to get it done. If you start early, it is doable to finish it all up. If you wait, however, once again, technology can (and will) bite you.
I know that I can’t fix my students. I can’t make them plan ahead. I can’t make them care. I can’t make this class and the work (and it is work) meaningful for them. They have to find the meaning themselves, and the desire to be here and succeed.
Sometimes all I can do is teach the lesson that, yes, it takes work. And that logical consequences will be administered if that work isn’t getting done on time.
I also got to spend time with a student talking about a math/programming (research) problem today. It is always a pleasure to take 45 minutes and spend it unpacking a problem and figuring out some ways to approach it. Knowing that while I didn’t solve it, I was able to provide some solid direction. Even though I’m not a tenure-track faculty, even though I don’t have a research program, even though, to many minds, I don’t do “important work”, I get to help my students do math that is important to them. They are important to me.